I was pleasantly surprised with how funny and engaging Sir Ken Robinson is to watch! He tackles real issues and raises important questions—all while making us laugh! It is such a delight to watch him speak about the Arts and Education! If only more speakers could have his amazing presence!
As I was watching his video, I was constantly jotting down strong quotes and phrases that were said. I felt like I was being overwhelmed with amazing insight! There was such an abundance of valuable information, yet was somehow effortlessly and eloquently presented in this rather short speech!
I hold a large amount of value in his entire speech, to be honest. Sentence after sentence of thought-changing information! I wish every educator would watch this video. Heck, I wish every person would watch this video. It sure would change some minds about how we run education today!
There are several quotes that stood out in particular to me and I would like the chance to respond to them and expand.
-“Many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not…because the things they are good at are highly stigmatized." I find this to be extremely valuable and extremely true! There is such a stigma about what qualities and talents are valued in education and which aren’t. But, why? Why are the arts constantly being put on the back burner? Why are they so undervalued?
-“Creativity is as important as literacy.” And “We are all born creative. The goal is to stay creative as we grow.” Amen! While the value in math, science and English are clear; skills like imagination, creativity, and art- making are under-valued. As a result, we are fostering students who can write a hell of a paper, who can do calculus and chemistry with ease—but who are not fully prepared for the real word (for the working world) because they lack the means to express their ideas in a creative way. They lack the skills to create and use their imaginations.Why can’t ALL areas of learning be seen as equals? Why can’t we strip away the stigma and simply allow people to excel in what they are good at? What they have a natural drive, passion and talent for? Or, as Robinson says, “what you’ve been gifted to do.” Why are we as educators stifling children’s creativity?
-“Mistakes are seen as bad, but if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original!”I think this is one of the largest problems in education today. Even as adults, we are all terrified of making mistakes, of failing—because we have been brainwashed that this is the worst thing that could possibly happen to you. Being wrong! Making a mistake! Being…a human—oh, no! Where did this come from and why does it hold such a strong hold on learners in today’s society? How can we as educators break this hold?
-The story about Jillian Lane really struck a chord with me. I actually began to cry when I heard this story. It was truly beautiful and moving, but at the same time it made me wonder…what would have happened to Jillian if she had gone to some other therapist? One who didn’t simply see her as a different kind of learner? Who didn’t see her as a dancer who needed to embrace her natural talent and love for movement? Would she have become who she is today? Are we as educators, hindering what our students could do? What they could become --due to our set definitions and stereotypes about learning and what skills are valued or not valued? Is that student who can’t sit still in class unfocused, or do they just need to express their learning in another way? Are they a dancer? Could he/she be the next Jillian Lane? Is the child who constantly doodles during lecture the next Van Gogh? Maybe and maybe not. But if we stifle that creativity-- if we assign values to some skills and strip them away from others—if we try to change who people really are, we will never know.
If you liked this video, you should watch his follow up video. It is equally fabulous!
During my time in graduate school at NYU, I have heard over and over the term "Elevator Speech". Professors are constantly saying, "everyone should have an elevator speech prepared for what the do and why it is important". As I am nearing graduation and beginning my job search, I am realizing more than ever how important this truly is. Especially as arts educators, we (more than anyone) need to be able to justify what we do, why we do what we do and why it's beneficial! I'm not saying it's fair! But it is reality. In schools-- what is the first thing to go if there are budget cuts? The arts! Without a doubt! Especially in Ohio, where I am from, most schools do not offer a performing arts curriculum of any kind. And many due to budget cuts no longer have any arts program. I repeat...NO ARTS PROGRAM!!
While the view on the value of the arts is improving (slowly) it still has a long way to go. Therefore, it is our responsibility to help move this effort along. I encourage everyone in the Arts or Art Education to prepare their own 30 second Elevator Speech!
I ask you: if you had 30 seconds to pitch the value in what we do-- why the arts are important, what would you say?
Last week at PPAS (my student teaching placement), Senior Shakespeare Scene Study class had the pleasure of working with Michael Rogers-- an accomplished Broadway actor and expert on Shakespeare. He offered a plethora of valuable information on technique and acting Shakespeare, as well as many useful activities I can steal for the future! :) This was all amazing and very useful, but those aren't the things I am going to remember a few weeks from now...a few years from now. But this, I will remember forever: "If you're not having fun, you're probably not doing it right". What an idea! It's so simple, but so true! I feel like as actors, and also as teachers of the arts we often forget this simple fact. We get wrapped up in all the technique, and desire to reach "perfection", that we rob ourselves of the simple pleasure Theatre offers. Why do we do art? Why do we act? Because we love it! We are passionate about it! It lifts us up and makes us feel alive. IT'S FUN!!!!! Yes, we have important objectives in teaching Theatre and sometimes it will be serious, but when it comes down to it, when you are up on the stage-- just have fun! If you're not enjoying it, then why are you doing it? Why go through all the effort that acting demands?
I just thought this was an excellent point and it had a great impact on me, as well as my students! After he said this, it was clear the students embraced it and as a result their acting actually improved. Such a simple instruction-- "have fun" and the entire scene was transformed. They were alive on stage!
When an actor is really living on the stage and having fun-- the audience will go on the ride with you and as a result, we will have fun and enjoy it more!